SACD Experience

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by James Pann, Sep 10, 2001.

  1. James Pann

    James Pann Auditioning

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    Here are my experience so far and my 2 cents on the SACD.
    Since the sacd climate changes rapidly, so I bought a Sony cheapie, SCD-CE775, for interim use. I'll upgrade to a high end one when the dust settles. Even so, for a classical music audiophile like me, the sound improvement is nothing short of spectacular. For first time in my life, I hear the recorded mass string (strings play in tutti)sound in its full glory. The major improvement IMO is "air", "layer" and "timbre". For sound quality, if given a choice, I'll never go back to redbook cd again. I currently have about a dozen of them; lack of software is a problem right. The Sony Classic's Mozart Sinfonia Concertante played by Midori et al is a good example how multi-channel technology can be used to achieve superior sound on classical recordings(the Midori's violin was recorded a little too bright, thus mask violin's beautiful timber a little bit. the recorded orchestral playing is superb. imo). For pop music fans, Chesky's An Intruduction to SACD is a good starter. Jim
     
  2. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    James, congratulations on your purchase. I've been an SACD supporter since last October, so I was an earlier adopter. Although I greatly enjoy SACD, I admire your practical approach to buying into the format. Currently, I have a Sony SCD-777ES in my main system and an SCD-C333ES in a second system. Both are stereo players and are excellent as CD players. I consider most of my 43 SACDs to be outstanding in that they sound natural (open, airy, etc.) relative to the corresponding CDs. SACD is a wonderful format.
    So I haven't bought into multi-channel SACD yet, but I am looking at the SCD-C222ES carousel changer. I'm just waiting for the multi-channel catalog to expand to a more respectable quantity and to see the 'C222ES in a store. The way people have been raving about multi-channel SACD, I can't wait to get it in my system. I've only heard multi-channel SACD once and it was a disaster. Fortunately, I knew the demo would be a disaster prior to hearing anything as a result of a lousy set-up, so I knew to discount whatever I was going to hear. My experience with stereo SACD also made me realize that what I heard from multi-channel SACD wasn't a fair demo. It was at a local Circuit City yesterday. They had the 'CE775 connected to a Harman/Kardon AVR 7000 receiver (nothing wrong with that in the grand scheme of things), but they were using cheap Polk Audio satellite speakers all around. The Polks did not do multi-channel SACD justice. For me, it didn't matter, however, the consumer who is unfamiliar with SACD might walk away disappointed.
    By the way, I have the Chesky An Introduction to SACD sampler, and it is outstanding. Chesky recordings are always first-rate, and the CD layer on the sampler disc sounds quite excellent. However, the SACD layer is a whole different ballgame. I also have Rebecca Pidgeon The Raven from Chesky on SACD (stereo). It too is a sonic wonder, and I love Pidgeon's voice. Christy Baron Steppin' came out recently on a hybrid disc with both multi-channel and stereo SACD tracks. I will definitely get this disc.
    How would you rate the 'CE775 as a CD player? Have you compared it to any other players? I've heard the 'CE775 is a decent player, but most reviews I've read only rave about its multi-channel SACD performance.
    In case you aren't aware, Audio Asylum (www.audioasylum.com) has a good message board for both SACD and DVD-Audio called the Hi-Rez Highway. Here is the link:
    http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/hirez/bbs.html
    It's a great source of news on SACD and DVD-Audio.
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    [Edited last by KeithH on September 10, 2001 at 09:31 PM]
     
  3. James Pann

    James Pann Auditioning

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    Hi Keith: I think, for me multi-channel is the way to go. If the recording engineers use the surround channel "correctly", they'd capture the ambience, say that of the Carnegie Hall's. The two-channel also capture the ambience, but folded into the two (front) channels. So, when you listen to two-channel stereo, what you hear is the recorded music itself plus the recorded ambience from the two speakers, PLUS the ambience of your listening room( a pseudo ambience by reflections from the sound of your speakers) , which, of course, is not natural. The multi-channel CD distributes the recorded ambience to the surround speakers, which is the logical destination. If you acoustically treat your listening room well, you'd minimized the "pseudo" ambience. So, say a Isaac Stern's Carnegie Hall recital when recorded in multi-channel, will bring you home with a Carnegie Hall experience together with its ambience. If the "Resurrection" in "An Introduction to SACD" was recorded in multi-channel, we'd hear a much open sound! Yes, I do have R Pidgeon's Raven SACD. A fantastic SACD, even in its regular cd format, it sounds very smooth. David Chesky must have a good ear.
    It's kind late into the night, I'll post again tomorrow regarding other point of your interesting and thoughtful post.
     
  4. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    James, since you are getting into SACD now, it makes sense to get a multi-channel player. Actually, getting a stereo-only SACD player brand new is getting increasingly more difficult since the SCD-C333ES has been discontinued. Sony is only releasing multi-channel players now. Marantz still has a stereo player available (the SA-14), but it is not cheap. Marantz will be coming out with its first multi-channel player soon (SA-12S1).
    I would love to hear multi-channel SACD with the surrounds used "correctly", that is, for ambience. From what I have read in discussions on Audio Asylum, it seems as though multi-channel SACD has used surrounds for ambience more often that has DVD-Audio thus far. I have a DVD-Audio player (Technics DVD-A10) and 13 discs, and most of the surround-sound mixes are gimmicky. I actually don't mind them too much as a change of pace, but I generally prefer the stereo tracks on the DVD-Audio discs I have. If I heard multi-channel SACD done with ambience in the surrounds, I might very well prefer it over stereo.
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  5. James Pann

    James Pann Auditioning

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    Keith, I think, multi-channel is the logical extension of the SACD evolution. It is one more tool for the recording engineers to use as well as one more listening option for the consumers.
    On the CE775, you can select 2-channel playback mode or select multi-channel plyback mode, or you can set up multi-channel mode MINUS the center channel, which I did. I'll explain why later.
    You mentioned that you didn't take it seriously about the listening experience in CC. You are right. You know, you got some idea after you did an audition at the dealer's show room, then you got some other ideas after reading tons of reviews you can get your hands on. So you drew some conclusion and went out bought that darn thing home, only to find out that it didn't sound as expected! WHAT happened? Because, when you were auditioning in the dealer's show room, you thought you were listening to that piece of equipment, in reality, you were listening to the dealer's WHOLE system AND his show room's AMBIENCE. Same is true for all those reviews you have read! You are really comparing apples with oranges without knowing that the apple you brought home is really an orange. So I have long since given up the practice of auditioning. it confused the hell out of me. Instead, what I do now is first to find a hardware reviewer whoes audio phylosophy I agree and whose hearing judgement I trust. I use his opinion about 90% of the time (Which is another way to say that I follow his opinion almost all the time). I still read other reviews off magazines and internet, BUT WITH GRAIN OF SALT. To find that reviewer is kind hard, with luck and good digging, you'll find one. This method works for me perfectly, save me trips to the dealers and my confusion. I still go to CC, GG and BB just for fun or info. MY guru reviewer is Richard Hardesty of the newsletter of Audioperfectionist and also of the Audio technical editor of the WideScreen Review. In case you are not aware, that he has a website: http://www.audioperfectionist.com/. Sometimes, it just makes me wonder that people willing to pay absurd price for cables but unwilling to fork over a small percentage of that money to subscribe to his newsletter to get a decent E.D.U.C.A.T.I.O.N.
    Keith, I compared the'CE775 as a regular CD player with my Marantz AV9000 pre amp (I can do such comparison, because CE775 has 2-channel analog and digital outputs)and my Marantz VC8100 DVD Mega-changer which doubles as a cd player. Honestly, I couldn't tell the differece. That means at the V9000 and VC8100 component level, the system cannot tell the differece, so CE775 as a regular CD player should be as good as the V9000 or VC8100, which is very,very good, considering the two Marantzs' both using the state of art 96kHz/24-bit D/A Converter and 24-bit A/D Converter. Another possibility that I cannot tell the differece is that my ear is not as good. It is possible but not likely. I had been playing violin in my younger years. Though a lousy one (I had problem memorize music, I need music sheets in front of me, and I have severe case of stage fright), the violin playing trained my ear greatly; imagine that unlike guitar, the violin doesn't have fret, you have to use your ear to feel your way to press your finger on the fingerboard at the right location in order to produce a certain note, otherwise; you are off key. In order to produce a beautiful tone, you need a constant and continous interaction/feedback between your hand and your ear.
    All in all, CE775 gives me good value with excellent sound, worth every penny of it. I'll keep this one for the time being. Until there is one come along with dual power supply via separate transformers, I will upgrade then sell the CE775 on eBay. Jim
     
  6. James Pann

    James Pann Auditioning

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    Keith, Does Marantz SA-12S1 have separate transformers for its power suppllies? When it will be on the market? Jim
     
  7. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    James, one has to take in-store auditions with a grain of salt due to different equipment being used than what is owned, store distractions, acoustical differences, etc. My point in all of this is that Circuit City's lousy set-up could give the otherwise uninformed a less than accurate impression of the quality of SACD (stereo and multi-channel).
    As for hearing no difference between the 'CE775 and your Marantz components in CD mode, I can't really comment since I have no direct experience with them. There could be no difference, you didn't hear the difference, or your system isn't revealing enough to bring out the differences. Although I have never listened to your Marantz megachanger, megachangers generally are not great audio components. Given that yours is also a DVD player, I wouldn't expect it to be a great CD player, in spite of the Marantz name. It may be better than most, if not all, DVD megachangers out there, but I would expect it to lag significantly behind comparably priced single-disc CD players. So, maybe you won't hear a difference between a DVD megachanger and mid-priced carousel changer. Neither one has the recipe for a great CD player. Don't take my comments as a knock on your component selection. These are just my views.
    I own both carousel CD changers (Sony SCD-C333ES, Sony CDP-CA80ES, and Denon DCM-370) and CD megachangers (two Sony CDP-CX333ES 300-disc units daisy-chained), and with the exception of the 'C333ES, none of them are outstanding players. They are all good for the price and for the features offered, but there is often a compromise in audio performance when you get a lot of features. Again, the 'C333ES is the exception. It is a truly outstanding component in every respect. However, the difference in sound quality between my 'CX333ES megachangers and Sony SCD-777ES single-disc SACD/CD player (in CD mode) is very, very obvious.
    My girlfriend is no audiophile, but she loves music and is gaining an appreciation for my hobby. I think when I describe the differences between the sound of various CD players, she can't really appreciate it, however. Not surprisingly, she needs to hear them to know what I am talking about. She has no experience with quality audio outside of listening to my equipment. This past weekend, we listened to a few CDs in the 'CX333ES and then in the '777ES. Her eyes lit up when she heard CDs in the '777ES right after hearing them in the 'CX333ES. It was as though she had seen the light. In all the times she had listened to music on my equipment, this was the first time she really understood why I have undertaken this hobby. She gets it now. On its own, the 'CX333ES is a good CD player. The music sounds good. However, when you play the same CDs in the '777ES, it's a whole different experience. But, I digress. [​IMG]
    I have not followed the Marantz SACD players too closely. However, I would expect the SA-12S1 to have separate power transformers for the analog and digital circuitry. You should post your question on the Hi-Rez Highway board of Audio Asylum (www.audioasylum.com).
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    [Edited last by KeithH on September 13, 2001 at 06:03 PM]
     
  8. James Pann

    James Pann Auditioning

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    I agree with you that CC doesn't how to setup their gears. I went to see their HDTV one time and was totally unimpressed. I knew it is not HDTV's fault.
    I have two VC8100 megachangers for the purpose of store cds and dvds, each has the capacity of 300, suffcient for my collection of about 500+ cd/dvd combined. I connect its digital output to V9000 input use V9000's electronics for decoding. I put all my cd line notes into American Century's cd folder albums and numbered them. Btw, my wife is also my objective listener too.
    VC V9000 pre-amp is my interim component too. I am eagerly waiting for a six channel analogue inputs version of a CAL 2500SSP calibre to come on the market. So far there is no sight of it.
    Since you mentioned the SA-12S1, I did a web search---it does have separate transformers! It is an SACD/DVD player. It costs $3800. Now you made me think.........
    Btw, Hi-Rez is a very interesting site. Thanks for the info. Jim
     
  9. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    James, sound like you have a nice set-up and some nice upgrades planned. I figured the SA-12S1 would have separate power supplies. Marantz makes very well-designed components, especially when it comes to SACD players. However, the price is steep.
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  10. James Pann

    James Pann Auditioning

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    Keith, I keep telling myself don't even entertain the idea of buying the SA-12S1. Wait at least 6 months........
     
  11. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    James, before spending so much money on a multi-channel SACD player like the SA-12S1, I would have to see many, many more titles out on SACD, multi-channel or stereo. I feel as though I took a bit of a risk when I bought the SCD-777ES for $1500 last October since it is not a multi-channel player (there were no such titles or players available then) and since the stereo SACD catalog was very thin. Still, I had heard a lot of good things about the '777ES as CD player, and the component looked like an exceptional bargain. I found this to be true. However, the '12S1 is $3800, and I feel that is just too much to spend on SACD at this juncture. I wonder if the performance justifies the price in CD or SACD mode. Time will tell. Anyway, I'd stick with the 'CE775 for now. If a mass-market Sony product doesn't do the job, you can always upgrade to a Sony ES player (e.g., SCD-C222ES or SCD-C555ES) for much less than the price of the '12S1.
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  12. James Pann

    James Pann Auditioning

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    Keith, Thanks for your input. As I said, I'll wait for at least 6 months before even entertain the idea. Besides, some other goodies may pop out....the climate changes rapidly.....
    I just received two Telarc SACD thru the mail few minutes ago:
    #1. The Film Music of Jerry Goldsmith
    #2. Mahler Symphony No. 5
    My coments: #1. Wow! Wow! #2. Wow!
     
  13. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    James, thanks for the comments on these two multi-channel SACDs. Classical music is not my first love, but when I do get a multi-channel player, I will probably pick up discs such as the Mahler title. I am going to want to experience every type of music in multi-channel, especially those titles that use the rear channels for ambience. I won't limit music purchases to my typical genres (rock, pop, and jazz) because I will be buying a multi-channel player for the experience as well as the music.
    Do you listen to rock and pop music? If so, you ought to pick up the James Taylor Hourglass multi-channel SACD. I've heard very good things about the multi-channel track. I have the disc, and it is outstanding in stereo. If you do pick it up, listen to track 4, which is titled "Gaia". It's a wonderful song and sounds incredible in stereo SACD.
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  14. James Pann

    James Pann Auditioning

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    Keith, On second hearing, I have second thought about the Mahler's 5th.--- The sound is good, but the reading (tempo) is too slow to my taste. The Film Music of Jerry Goldsmith and Mozart Sinfonia Concertante are demo quality MSACD imo.
    Since you mentioned James Taylor's Hourglass, I might just pick this one up for a try. Now, being an immigrant (naturalized American), I have hard time differentiating pop from rock, please enlighten me. Is "Raven" pop or rock? Jim
     
  15. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    James, Hourglass is a great disc musically and sonically, in my opinion. It might suit everyone's taste, but give it a shot for $17-20. Rebecca Pidgeon The Raven definitely is not rock, but I wouldn't classify it as pop either. Pop music is like N-Sync, Mariah Carey, Backstreet Boys, and the other artists you hear on the radio every five minutes and see on the Billboard top-40 charts. In stores, when I can find Rebecca Pidgeon discs, I see them under "Vocals" or "International Music". As for the latter classification, Pidgeon is Scottish, and she sings a fair number of Scottish folk songs (see her CD entitled Four Marys, for example).
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  16. James Pann

    James Pann Auditioning

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    Thanks, Keith.
    There is an very interesting artical. If you have time, give it a read. It is titled Watch Dog #10. It is on www.audioperfectionist.com/.
     
  17. James Pann

    James Pann Auditioning

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    Keith, I love R. Pidgeon. Her "Spanish Harlem" is my favorite. Jim
     
  18. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    James, thanks for the link. I believe I am on their e-mail distribution list. I may have gotten the newsletter with the article you are referring to, but I'll just check your link.
    As for Rebecca Pidgeon, "Spanish Harlem" is beautiful on SACD. I also like "Grandmother" off of The Raven.
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  19. James Pann

    James Pann Auditioning

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    Keith: Just would like to let you know: I did a lengthy hearing comparison between Sony 775 in red book cd mode and feeding the digital output to my Marantz av 9000 preamp using AV-9000's 96k/24-bit DAC. The latter sounds much better. This tells me that the electronics per se in the Sony 775 is at least not as good as that of the av 9000. So your wait for a better model seems to make great sense. Jim
     

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